'I'm still getting used to being a solo act' - Ireland's Eurovision entrant flies the flag at first event in Israel
Ireland's entrant for the Eurovision is currently flying the flag at his first major public appearance to promote his song, at an official pre-contest event in Israel.
Former Hometown star Brendan Murray will sing Dying To Try in the Eurovision semi-final in the Ukraine next month, but this week has been gearing up for his big moment at a warm-up in Tel Aviv.
The 20-year-old – who was chosen by Louis Walsh to represent us this year - took to the red carpet last night.
Brendan is at Israel Calling, with over 30 competing countries in attendance, where contestants will get to know each other before the main contest.
The four day excursion takes in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Herzilya, where contestants plant trees before taking part in a live concert tonight and will perform their Eurovision song.
“We're having an amazing time over here in Tel Aviv,” Brendan said.
“Everyone’s been so nice and super friendly. Yesterday we did a tour to the Mount of Olives with fabulous panoramic views out across Jerusalem. We visited the Wailing Wall and had a guided tour of the tunnels underneath which was fascinating. We took a wander through the souks and sampled some of the local delicacies.”
“Last night there was a red carpet gala event. It was a little bit nerve wrecking posing without the other lads from Hometown. I'm still getting used to being a solo act but it's great practise for Kiev next month as I'm told it can take up to two hours to walk the Red Carpet at Eurovision with all the international journalists and media assembled," he added:
Brendan, who hails from Tuam, says it has been great to mingle with other Eurovision acts.
“I've been hanging out a lot with Nathan Trent from Austria,” he explains. “He's a cool guy and celebrated his birthday over here yesterday so there was a cake for him and we all sang Happy Birthday. I don't think he'll forget this birthday.
“Earlier this morning we had a big press conference which was covered by a variety of press outlets including journalists, TV, websites, bloggers and media from all over Europe and Israel. I was sitting between Levina from Germany and Alma from France.
"It's brilliant to have the chance to meet so many of the acts before Kiev in May. It really is like a mini Eurovision and gives me a much better idea of what I can expect in Ukraine”
This afternoon Brendan and the rest of the contestants planted trees in the ‘Eurovision rainforest’.
“It's roasting today. 32 degrees, so we're all trying to find a few shady spots so we don't want to get burnt.
“Later this afternoon we had a sound check rehearsal and tonight there's a big live concert in a local theatre with hundreds of fans in attendance. I can't wait to get out on the stage and perform for all the Israeli Eurovision fans. When I'm singing ‘Dying to Try’ I really get into the zone and there's no better feeling in the world. “
Ireland has been drawn in the second semi-final on Thursday May 11 alongside the likes of serial qualifiers such as Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Malta, Serbia, Romania and Austria. Russia, slated to be in the same semi-final, have still to decide whether to send a replacement for a singer Ukraine banned as she has performed in the disputed Crimea territory.
A total of 19 countries are due to take part in the semi-final, one more that the first semi two days earlier, which will put Ireland under additional pressure to make the final ten.
Ireland will also be deprived of support from our near neighbours, the United Kingdom, who this year have been drawn to vote in the first semi-final.
The UK along with the other countries that make up the so-called 'Big Five' as well as host country, Ukraine, automatically qualify for the final but are allowed to vote in only one of the semi-finals.
The final itself takes place on Saturday May 13.